No, that’s not Lucy’s engine, it belongs to Sea Start Ltd, and lives in the classroom where I went on Tuesday for my RYA Diesel Engine course. It’s a Volvo of some sort, but since most diesel marine engines are very similar it works well as a demonstration tool.
I travelled south on Monday night and crashed out on the sofa of a friend in Southampton. I was up and out by 06:15 the following morning for a dash over to Sanders Sails in Lymington, to order the new jib and staysail. Then it really was a dash back through Southampton’s rush hour traffic to Hamble Point, and to Sea Start. The training was just about to commence as I arrived.
There were three ‘candidates’ and one instructor, and he was a very good instructor indeed. I’ll admit to having had little to no idea about engines of any kind, but it started with a very simple explanation of how diesels work; suck, squeeze, bang, push, suck, squeeze, bang, push, suck, squeeze, bang, push, suck, squeeze, bang, suck, push, squeeze, bang, push, etc, etc. Well, that’s the four strokes of a four stroke anyway.
We leant about the main systems, the key one being fuel. If there’s no clean fuel going to it, it won’t work, so we were taught how to troubleshoot our way through valves, pre-filters, filters, fuel tanks, return feeds and ‘diesel bug’. This can occur when water lies in the bottom of a tank which has contaminated fuel in it. The ‘bug’ thrives in that area where the diesel and water meet, and it’s a bugger. It can clog up the fuel supply and cause engine malfunction just when you don’t need it. The best plan is to avoid getting it, so we learnt how to minimise water in the tank, drain it off, change filters, bleed the system, etc. All good stuff, and very useful to know.
We went through the cooling systems, both fresh water and sea water. Lucy has both; her Beta has fresh water circulating and cooling the engine, but this is kept cool by a heat exchanger which has sea water running through it. We learned about seacocks where this sea water is sucked in by the pump and where it exits the boat mixed in with the exhaust. We practiced changing the sea water pump impellor, which needs doing annually, and sometimes in an emergency.
We looked at electrics and batteries too, and a lot of other interesting stuff like what tools and spares to keep on the boat. I really enjoyed the course, and the instructor was incredibly knowledgable. I muse have looked as though I understood the course because he gave me a certificate at the end.